Showing posts with label Buddhaghosa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Buddhaghosa. Show all posts

You can get the book from here:

What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula

This book is a must read for those seeking to have a foundational understanding of the core teachings of Buddha.

In terms of insight it is more towards anatta. (Comments by John Tan below). I personally think the author should have realised anatta.

Sent John Tan quotations:

It must be repeated here that according to Buddhist philosophy there is no permanent, unchanging spirit which can be considered ‘Self’, or ‘Soul’, or ‘Ego’, as opposed to matter, and that consciousness (viññāṇa) should not be taken as ‘spirit’ in opposition to matter. This point has to be particularly emphasized, because a wrong notion that consciousness is a sort of Self or Soul that continues as a permanent substance through life, has persisted from the earliest time to the present day.
One of the Buddha’s own disciples, Sāti by name, held that the Master taught: ‘It is the same consciousness that transmigrates and wanders about.’ The Buddha asked him what he meant by ‘consciousness’. Sāti reply is classical: ‘It is that which expresses, which feels, which experiences the results of good and bad deeds here and there’.
‘To whomever, you stupid one’, remonstrated the Master, ‘have you heard me expounding the doctrines in this manner? Haven’t I in many ways explained consciousness as arising out of conditions: that there is no arising of consciousness without conditions’. Then the Buddha went on to explain consciousness in detail: ‘Consciousness is named according to whatever condition through which it arises: on account of the eye and visible forms arises a consciousness, and it is called visual consciousness; on account of the ear and sounds arises a consciousness, and it is called auditory consciousness; on account of the nose and odours arises consciousness, and it is called olfactory consciousness; on account of the tongue and tastes arises a consciousness, and it is called gustatory consciousness; on account of the body and tangible objects arises a consciousness, and it is called tactile consciousness; on account of the mind and mind-objects (ideas and thoughts) arises a consciousness, and it is called mental consciousness.’
Then the Buddha explained it further by an illustration: A fire is named according to the material on account of which it burns. A fire may burn on account of wood, add it is called wood-fire. It may burn on account of straw, and then it is called straw-fire. So consciousness is named account to the condition through which it arises.[57]
Dwelling on this point, Buddhaghosa, the great commentator, explains: ‘… a fire that burns on account of wood burns only when there is a supply, but dies down in that very place when it (the supply) is no longer there, because then the condition has changed, but (the fire) does not cross over to splinters, etc., and become a splinter-fire and so on; even so the consciousness that arises on account of the eye and visible forms arises in that gate of sense organ (i.e., in the eye), only when there is the condition of the eye, visible forms, light and attention, but ceases then and there when it (the condition) is no more there, because then the condition has changed, but (the consciousness) does not cross over to the ear, etc., and become auditory consciousness and so on…’[58]
The Buddha declared in unequivocal terms that consciousness depends on matter, sensation, perception and mental formations and that it cannot exist independently of them. He says:
‘Consciousness may exist having matter as its means (rūpupāyaṃ), matter as its object (rūpārammaṇaṃ), matter as its support (rūpa-patiṭṭham), and seeking delight it may grow, increase and develop; or consciousness may exist having sensation as its means… or perception as its means… or mental formations as its means, mental formations as its objects, mental formations as its support, and seeking delight it may grow, increase and develop.
‘Were a man to say: I shall show the coming, the going, the passing away, the arising, the growth, the increase or the development of consciousness apart from matter, sensation, perception and mental formations, he would be speaking of something that does not exist.’[59]
Very briefly these are the five Aggregates. What we call a ‘being’, or an ‘individual’, or, ‘I’, is only a convenient name or a label given to the combination of these five groups. They are all impermanent, all constantly changing. ‘Whatever is impermanent is dukkha’ (Yad aniccaṃ tam dukkhaṃ). This is the true meaning of the Buddha’s words: ‘In brief the five Aggregates of Attachment are dukkha’. They are not the same for two consecutive moments. Here A is not equal to A. They are in a flux of momentary arising and disappearing.
‘O Brāhmaṇa, it is just like a mountain river, flowing far and swift, taking everything along with it; there is no moment, no instant, no second when it stops flowing, but it goes on flowing and continuing. So Brāhmaṇa, is human life, like a mountain river.’[60] As the Buddha told Raṭṭhapāla: ‘The world is in continuous flux and is impermanent.’
One thing disappears, conditioning the appearance of the next in a series of cause and effect. There is no unchanging substance in them. There is nothing behind them that can be called a permanent Self (Ātman), individuality, or anything that can in reality be called ‘I’. Every one will agree that neither matter, nor sensation, nor perception, nor any one of those mental activities, nor consciousness can really be called ‘I’.[61] But when these five physical and mental aggregates which are interdependent are working together in combination as a physio-psychological machine,[62] we get the idea of ‘I’. But this is only a false idea, a mental formation, which is nothing but one of those 52 mental formations of the fourth Aggregate which we have just discussed, namely, it is the idea of self (sakkāya-diṭṭhi).
These five Aggregate together, which we popularly call a ‘being’ are dukkha itself (saṃkhāra-dukkha). There is no other ‘being’ or ‘I’, standing behind these five aggregates, who experiences dukkha. As Buddhaghosa says:
‘Mere suffering exists, but no sufferer is found; 
The deeds are, but no doer is found.’[63]
There is no unmoving mover behind the movement. It is only movement. It is not correct to say that life is moving, but life is movement itself. Life and movement are not two different things. In other words, there is no thinker behind the thought. Thought itself is the thinker. If you remove the thought, there is no thinker to be found. Here we cannot fail to notice how this Buddhist view is diametrically opposed to the Cartesian cogito ergo sum: ‘I think, therefore I am.’


Sometimes you see a man in a restaurant reading while eating – a very common sight. He gives you the impression of being a very busy man, with no time even for eating. You wonder whether he eats or reads. One may say that he does both. In fact, he does neither, he enjoys neither. He is strained, and disturbed in mind, and he does not enjoy what he does at the moment, does not live his life in the present moment, but unconsciously and foolishly tries to escape from life. (This does not mean, however, that one should not talk with a friend while having lunch or dinner.)
You cannot escape life however you may try. As long as you live, whether in a town or in a cave, you have to face it and live it. Real life is the present moment – not the memories of the past which is dead and gone, nor the dreams of the future which is not yet born. One who lives in the present moment lives in the real life, and he is happiest.
When asked why his disciples, who lived a simple and quiet life with only one meal a day, were so radiant, the Buddha replied: ‘They do not repent the past, nor do they brood over the future. They live in the present. Therefore they are radiant. By brooding over the future and repenting the past, fools dry up like green reeds cut down (in the sun).’[164]
Mindfulness, or awareness, does not mean that you should think and be conscious ‘I am doing this’ or ‘I am doing that’. No. Just the contrary. The moment you think ‘I am doing this’ you become self-conscious, and then you do not live in the action, but you live in the idea ‘I am’, and consequently your work too is spoilt. You should forget yourself completely, and lose yourself in what you do. The moment a speaker becomes self-conscious and thinks ‘I am addressing an audience’, his speech is disturbed and his trend of thought broken. But when he forgets himself in his speech, in his subject, then he is at his best, he speaks well and explains things clearly. All great work – artistic, poetic, intellectual or spiritual – is produced at those moments when its creators are lost completely in their actions, when they forget themselves altogether, and are free from self-consciousness.
This mindfulness or awareness with regard to our activities, taught by the Buddha, is to live in the present moment, to live in the present action. (This is also the Zen way which is based primarily on this teaching.) Here in this form of meditation, you haven’t got to perform any particular action in order to develop mindfulness, but you have only to be mindful and aware of whatever you may do. You haven’t got to spend one second of your precious time on this particular ‘meditation’: you have only to cultivate mindfulness and awareness always, day and night, with regard to all activities in your usual daily life. These two forms of ‘meditation’ discussed above are connected with our body.
Then there is a way of practising mental development (‘meditation’) with regard to all our sensations or feelings, whether happy, unhappy or neutral. Let us take only one example. You experience an unhappy, sorrowful sensation. In this state your mind is cloudy, hazy, not clear, it is depressed. In some cases, you do not even see clearly why you have that unhappy feeling. First of all, you should learn not to be unhappy about your unhappy feeling, not to be worried about your worries. But try to see clearly why there is a sensation or a feeling of unhappiness, or worry, or sorrow. Try to examine how it arises, its cause, how it disappears, its cessation. Try to examine it as if you are observing it from outside, without any subjective reaction, as a scientist observes some object. Here, too, you should not look at it as ‘my feeling’ or ‘my sensation’ subjectively, but only look at it as ‘a feeling’ or ‘a sensation’ objectively. You should forget again the false idea of ‘I’. When you see its nature, how it arises and disappears, your mind grows dispassionate towards that sensation, and becomes detached and free. It is the same with regard to all sensations or feelings.
Now let us discuss the form of ‘meditation’ with regard to our minds. You should be fully aware of the fact whenever your mind is passionate or detached, whenever it is overpowered by hatred, ill-will, jealousy, or is full of love, compassion, whenever it is deluded or has a clear and right understanding, and so on and so forth. We must admit that very often we are afraid or ashamed to look at our own minds. So we prefer to avoid it. One should be bold and sincere and look at one’s own mind as one looks at one’s face in a mirror.[165]
Here is no attitude of criticizing or judging, or discriminating between right and wrong, or good and bad. It is simply observing, watching, examining. You are not a judge, but a scientist. When you observe your mind, and see its true nature clearly, you become dispassionate with regard to its emotions, sentiments and states. Thus you become detached and free, so that you may see things as they are.

[10:23 PM, 1/23/2021] Soh Wei Yu: This book is nice
[10:23 PM, 1/23/2021] Soh Wei Yu: I didnt see the buddhaghosa quote in the first two pages above before
[10:23 PM, 1/23/2021] Soh Wei Yu: I think its clear and good
[10:23 PM, 1/23/2021] Soh Wei Yu: The fire and wood
[10:29 PM, 1/23/2021] John Tan: Yes
[11:20 PM, 1/23/2021] Soh Wei Yu: I think the only point missing is what dependently originates does not truly originate
[11:20 PM, 1/23/2021] Soh Wei Yu: But that would be the unique point of mahayana and this book is theravadin
[11:43 PM, 1/23/2021] John Tan: What does they mean in this context? The subjectively is "gone" and everything turns "objective". How this notion "objectively" arise? Because of this, there is "existence". These notions "objectively", "existence" r what "inherentness" mean. If nothing is "inherently" there, then it is neither subjective nor objective but merely designated as objective or subjective, this is the "conceptual level" of release I m talking abt. Then there is the level of taste i told u.
[11:44 PM, 1/23/2021] Soh Wei Yu: oic..
[11:44 PM, 1/23/2021] Soh Wei Yu: so the book is more like anatta but turn into objectivity
[11:47 PM, 1/23/2021] John Tan: It is anatta, otherwise path towards emptiness will be clear.
[11:48 PM, 1/23/2021] Soh Wei Yu: ic..
[11:48 PM, 1/23/2021] Soh Wei Yu: yeah i think the author realised anatta
[11:49 PM, 1/23/2021] Soh Wei Yu: i told anurag to get this book, he got it yesterday 

[11:58 PM, 1/23/2021] John Tan: I heard many said it is a good book
[11:58 PM, 1/23/2021] Soh Wei Yu: yeah.. i think its the best introduction to buddha's teachings
Also see: Some Remarks on Conceptualization and Transcendent Experience

Dukkham-eva hi na koci dukkhito,
Karako na, kiriya va vijjati,
Atthi nibuti, na nibbuto puma,
Maggam-atthi, gamako na vijjati.
"Mere suffering is, not any sufferer is found
The deeds exist, but no performer of the deeds:
Nibbana is, but not the man that enters it,
The path is, but no wanderer is to be seen."
Kammassa Karako natthi,
Vipakassa ca vedako,
Suddhadhamma pavattanti,
Ev 'etam sammadassanam.
No doer of the deeds is found,
No one who ever reaps their fruits,
Empty phenomena roll on,
This view alone is right and true.
Na hettha devo brahma va,
Samsarass-atthi karako,
Suddhadhamma pavattanti,
Hetusambharapaccaya ti.
No god, no Brahma, may be called,
The maker of this wheel of life,
Empty phenomena roll on,
Dependent on conditions all." Visuddhimagga XIX.

Excerpts from

In the ultimate sense, there do not even exist such things as
mental states, i.e. stationary things. Feeling, perception,
consciousness, etc., are in reality mere passing processes of feeling,
perceiving, becoming conscious, etc., within which and outside of
which no separate or permanent entity lies hidden.

Thus a real understanding of the Buddha's doctrine of kamma and
rebirth is possible only to one who has caught a glimpse of the
egoless nature, or //anattata//, and of the conditionality, or
//idappaccayata//, of all phenomena of existence. Therefore it is said
in the //Visuddhimagga// (Chap. XIX):

Everywhere, in all the realms of existence, the noble disciple
sees only mental and corporeal phenomena kept going through the
concatenation of causes and effects. No producer of the
volitional act or kamma does he see apart from the kamma, no
recipient of the kamma-result apart from the result. And he is
well aware that wise men are using merely conventional language,
when, with regard to a kammical act, they speak of a doer, or
with regard to a kamma-result, they speak of the recipient of the

No doer of the deeds is found,
No one who ever reaps their fruits;
Empty phenomena roll on:
This only is the correct view.

And while the deeds and their results
Roll on and on, conditioned all,
There is no first beginning found,
Just as it is with seed and tree. ...

No god, no Brahma, can be called
The maker of this wheel of life:
Empty phenomena roll on,
Dependent on conditions all.
In the //Milindapanha// the King asks Nagasena:
"What is it, Venerable Sir, that will be reborn?"
"A psycho-physical combination (//nama-rupa//), O King."
"But how, Venerable Sir? Is it the same psycho-physical
combination as this present one?"
"No, O King. But the present psycho-physical combination produces
kammically wholesome and unwholesome volitional activities, and
through such kamma a new psycho-physical combination will be

Buddha said:

"This humankind is attached to self-production
Or holds to production by another.
Those who have not understood this
Have not seen it as a dart.

But one who sees (this as it is),
Having drawn out the dart,
Does not think, 'I am the agent,'
Nor does she think, 'Another is the agent.'

This humankind is possessed by conceit,
Fettered by conceit, bound by conceit.
Speaking vindictively because of their views,
They do not go beyond samsara."

- Tatiyananatitthiya Sutta

Lopon Malcolm said:

"There is no "experiencer" since there is no agent. There is merely experience, and all experience is empty."
"There are no agents. There are only actions. This is covered in the refutation of moving movers in chapter two of the MMK."

"Why should there be someone upon whom karma ripens? To paraphrase the 
Visuddhimagga, there is no agent of karma, nor is there a person to 
experience its ripening, there is merely a flow of dharmas."
 Also see